An “independent and impartial” commission of inquiry will be set up after the protests that rocked Senegal early March. The government made the announcement on Thursday, April 8, and presented its assessment of the events.
A 24-page memorandum reported 13 deaths during the unrest. The violence erupted in the wake of the court case involving Ousmane Sonko, the opponent accused of rape by an employee of a massage parlor. The authorities assured that justice would be done.
“Establish the truth and determine responsibility” after the demonstrations. These are the objectives of this commission of inquiry, announced in a desire for “appeasement” according to the government.
It is an open commission and members of the opposition and civil society will be able to participate, said Armed Forces Minister Sidiki Kaba, “so that this commission can work independently on what some or others have had to do. ”
No timetable was specified. The commission will be charged with shedding light on the presence or otherwise of “hidden forces” among the demonstrators – an expression used by the Minister of the Interior during the unrest – or on the presence of “henchmen” alongside the security enforcement agents.
While the opposition and civil society organizations accuse the police and gendarmes of excessive use of force, Sidiki Kaba assures that there will be no impunity. Yet, he praised the professionalism of the defense and security forces, saying the police showed restraint and composure. “Had it not been for that, we would have had a bloodbath.”
The legal proceedings involving Ousmane Sonko has been “a hurricane”, a “shock wave”, on a “fertile ground”, analyzes the minister. He assures that “justice will render its verdict in full independence.”
For its part, the Movement for the Defense of Democracy “takes note” of the creation of an independent commission of inquiry. This was one of the demands of this coalition of opposition political parties and civil society organizations created after the arrest of Ousmane Sonko. But the M2D says it remains “vigilant” on the modalities of setting up this commission, and already displays its “skepticism” on its impartiality towards the opponent.